When our body is working well we may not pay it much attention, but even the slightest injury can increase our awareness of the role of the injured body part in our overall well-being and state of mind. I once managed to break (I think) my little toe, right at the start of the autumn term.
The next few weeks gave me a great learning opportunity. When part of the body is injured, other parts will try to compensate and may be hurt themselves along the way. Depending on the injury, we may need to rest or perhaps movement will help the healing process. Either way, there is invariably something to be learned from the experience.
For such a tiny part of the body, the little toe has a major role to play in balance, as the weight shifts across the foot during balancing postures. Being unable to stand comfortably on one foot really made me appreciate how important that little toe is! It also made me reach for a support…which led to my second realisation.
When we do our balances using a support, the work needed in the foot is significantly reduced and as a knock-on effect, less effort is needed higher up, in the core muscles that help to stabilise the body. By continuing to use a support for balances, the foot will not be encouraged to develop the strength and flexibility needed to provide a good foundation for our postures and as a result, our ability to balance will not improve. If we struggle with standing balances this is indeed a catch 22 situation! For this reason, I always encourage people to try and balance without a support, however wobbly they may be. It is only by being prepared to move outside our comfort zone that we can grow and develop in our practice.